Caravaggioby Alfred Moir
During the brief life (1571-1610) of this great seventeenth-century
The turbulent career and dramatic paintings of Michelangelo Merisi called Caravaggio are presented in this volume in the Masters of Art series in fascinating detail, both through the brilliant text of Professor Alfred Moir and by the 40 full-page colorplates and many black-and-white illustrations.
During the brief life (1571-1610) of this great seventeenth-century Italian master, he moved from his native town of Caravaggio, Lombardy, to Milan where he studied briefly, then to the lucrative teeming city of Rome. There he found companionship among other artists and socially prominent people, and he secured wealthy patrons and his first public commissions.
Caravaggio's unconventional, not to say violent, behavior forced him to flee from Rome after he killed a man in a trifling argument. Jouneys to Naples, Malta, and Sicily were also rife with bizarre occurrences, yet they yielded major commissions for portraits and altarpieces, which were rendered with great creative energy. Characteristically, he died miserably on a trip back to Rome.
It is perhaps not surprising that Caravaggio's magnificent paintings parralleled his unorthodox manner - brilliant effects of light and shadow, dramatically positioned figures, depictions of erotic nude boys and beautiful madonnas, and strong story-telling mark his work. This was a revolutionary departure from all previous European painting. Moreover, Nature was his master, not the Mannerist style then in vogue; his models were people he knew, even strangers of the street, and his wonderful religious scenes, portraits, or simply pictures of musicians, cardsharps, and fortune tellers have a naturalism unprecedented until his time.
Professor Moir's vivid text deals not only with Caravaggio but also with his influence on European painting, the social and political events of the times, his fellow artists, and the powerful patrons who housed and supported this troublesome genius. An outstanding Caravaggio specialist who has written extensively about this painter and his circle, Alfred Moir is Professor of Art History at the University of California and Santa Barbara.
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